Remember when I said this wasn't a love story? Perhaps I should elaborate. This isn't your typical love story. By that I don't mean that this is your usual unrequited love story, with your usual lovesick hero mooning after his usual oblivious heroine. (Though mind you, I've done my fair share of mooning. My darling siblings can both attest to that.) I guess what I mean to say is that I'm not your typical hero. And Ingrid is certainly not your typical heroine. She's not even my first heroine.
In grade school I was forever looking for my new crush. My new heroine. I blame too much exposure to New Wave music. Depeche Mode and New Order were the soundtrack for those heady, formative years.
First there was Miss Sharon, my kindergarten teacher. (Yes, I know I started rather young.) I used to love hearing her read to us, and I would spend all of nap time just staring at her, marveling at this creature who was so unlike other women her age, women like my mother. In first grade there was Pamela, a pretty brunette who sat at my table and shared her lunch with me one fateful autumn day. Then from grades 2-4, I was all about Amy, a redhead who lived on my block. I used to sit on my porch for hours just waiting for her to pass by on her roller skates. Grade 5 brought me the exotic allure of Maria, a newly immigrated Cuban student. Our teacher used to pair me with her for group work so that I could help her with her English. Grade 6 introduced me to Mrs. Donovan, my first crush who was (dun, dun, dun) also a married woman. I blush just remembering the unnerving way she had of dropping the chalk and then bending down ever so slowly to pick it back up.
I guess I'm a lot like Romeo, in the way that I can fall in love at the drop of a hat. Only I'm still stuck on my Rosaline, that nebulous, formless character we never even get to meet in Romeo & Juliet -- the one he was supposedly in love with before Juliet? Yeah, her.
Why isn't Ingrid my Juliet? Perhaps it's because sometimes I wonder if Ingrid ever existed at all, or I somehow made her up inside my head, like some mad opium dream. Then I sift through my memories again, digging through the years as if I'm trying to excavate the past, and the confirmation of her existence overwhelms me once more, as it inevitably does. Flooding me with recriminations and regrets.
But if there's one thing I've learned it's that memory is never precise. It's like an overexposed photograph. The colors may be heightened, but the details are blurred, caught somewhere between existence and dream.